Right to Work Coming to Michigan

In all likelihood, Michigan will be a right to work state by this time next week.

There have been rumors of such a development for about a week … and near certainty the GOP-dominated legislature would pass laws gutting unions (particularly teachers’ unions, along with public education) in the lame duck session. But reports are right-to-work will come to the floor tomorrow. It’ll pass the House easily. It will probably pass the Senate (Dems were just beginning to pressure State Senators not to pass it; this quick trigger will short-circuit that effort). And while Rick Snyder has equivocated on whether or not he will veto it, it seems quite likely he will sign it.

All this comes on the heels of unions’ failed effort to enshrine collective bargaining in the state constitution, which moneyed interests defeated with ads asserting, simply, it would be dangerous, and for which unions failed (IMHO) to generate support outside of union households.

And while some observers suggest this will set off another effort to overturn the right to work legislation, for the short term, at least, it will add Michigan to those states that are racing to the bottom, offering under-educated workers for low wages rather than better educated, more stable workers.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

9 replies
  1. Jeff Kaye says:

    The union bureaucrats have been organizing the defeat of the union movement for decades now. It was the famous US socialist, Daniel DeLeon, who maybe 100 years or so now declared the union bureaucrats to be the “labour lieutenants of capital.”

    What DeLeon did not foresee was the rise of industrial unionism in the 1930s-1950s. But the McCarthy period purged the Reds out of the unions — really both CP/Trotskyists and any indepenent militants — leaving the unions either in conservative, Mafia, or social-democratic hands. In the aftermath, the AFL-CIO bureaucracy joined forces with the CIA overseas to promote anti-communist and pro-NATO unions. At home, union militancy, with a few exceptions, was snubbed out.

    The final betrayal was when Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers during the PATCO strike. The labor bureaucrats did nothing. And it’s been downhill ever since.

    Good luck, Michigan. I can only hope a new generation of worker militants will rise to sweep away all the sell out leaders, with their schemes of working through the state or via the Democratic Party. Union militancy and independence built the labor movement, and only the same will restore it to the masses of workers who still need its protection.

  2. Drowning In A Bathtub says:

    Right to Work is not the only thing that the Reich Wing domintaed Michigan Legislature wants to ram through in the current Lame Duck session before the end of 2012.

    Snyder administration proposes industrial tax phaseout

    Governor Rick Snyder and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley want the Legislature to enact a major tax overhaul before its current session ends in two or three weeks.

    It would phase out Michigan’s tax on business and industrial equipment.

    It is widely agreed the tax discourages investment and is a particularly large burden on manufacturers.

    The phase-out would take 10 years, with smaller businesses benefiting first.

    Lieutenant Governor Calley said Michigan’s economy is still rooted in manufacturing.

    “Eliminating this disincentive to invest will help improve our climate for job growth. Our whole state will benefit,” said Calley.

    The holdup has come from local governments and school districts, which rely on that revenue.

    David Lossing is the mayor of the city of Linden, near Flint, and president of the Michigan Municipal League. Lossing said there are still too many questions about this plan, and it could force many communities to cut services.

    “We want to make 21st Century communities. We want to make these places where people want to live, want to shop, want to open a business, and so forth. If you throw us over the cliff, we’re not going to attract the businesses that we think we need to have to make us prosperous,” said Lossing.

    The plan would guarantee money for police, fire and other emergency services, but only if voters approve the plan in a statewide election. Other services could face cuts.


  3. orionATL says:

    from election day on, i have wondered what happened to the michigan constitutional ammendment.

    i am very sorry to hear it ended this way.

    unions, i am guessing, like so many dem constituencies, need to develop a new rhetoric. the old appeals aren’t working.

    in particular, the focus on money earned as a benefit to the commumity – cars bought, tires bought, jeans bought, schooling bought, friges bought, shoes bought.

    impoverishing or limiting the opportunity of others, as right-to-work can do, harms local and state economies thru limiting income, then demand.

    without knowing anything about that campaign in mi, i can say with confidence that there was a serious failure to communicate effectively with voters on the part of the pro-union forces.

  4. orionATL says:


    the dem party in georgia, i have read, was essentially mothballed in the files of a sympathetic law firm.

    the dem party needs to become active and effective in local and state election,

    or it needs to be replaced – and i do NOT mean by some wacky third party. i mean by a party that really is “of the people, for the people”.

    i personally support that latter option. the dem party as it currently exists, is infested with the cockroach-rich who profess to care about our nation and people, but who, in reality, don’t give a flyin’ fig.

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